We recently had the chance to speak with with guitarist Connor Dawkins from pop punk/post-hardcore band Calling All Captains. Originating from small towns outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the band also consists of Luc Gauthier (vocals), Brad Bremner (guitar/vocals), Nick Malychuk (bass), and Tim Wilson (drums). Calling All Captains just dropped their debut-full-length album, Slowly Getting Better, via Rude Records and Equal Vision Records.

Check out what Connor had to say below.

How excited are you to release your debut album? 

CD: I cannot put into words how excited I am that our debut album will finally be available to the world. Slowly Getting Better is the culmination of a decade of musical trials and tribulations finally coming together into a collection of songs that we are all beyond proud to release.

What can you tell us about the style of music Calling All Captains plays?

CD: Our style in this record has definitely developed a post-hardcore element that seems to sit really well with the old school pop punk vibe. Luc’s ability to sing and scream opened a lot of avenues musically speaking. We’re trying to keep that old school sound while also incorporating more modern elements to keep it fresh.

Why do you think Pop Punk has become so popular?

CD: Pop Punk in general speaks the most to people who are struggling. Given the state of the world the last two years, I think it’s only natural that more and more people will begin to experience negative emotions they normally would not experience. Songs that are relatable to this growing thought-pool are going to become more popular. 

Did you always know that music was something you wanted to pursue?

CD: I think I knew from a very young age that I wanted to play guitar – I remember first hearing the opening guitar riff to ‘Day Tripper’ by The Beatles and sitting there for hours just rewinding the intro over and over. Right then I knew I had to figure out how to do that. I didn’t start playing guitar with a desire to join a band and look cool, or become rich and famous, but purely to learn and write music that made me happy.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?

CD: Just. Keep. Going. This industry is a tough one to make a splash in, but if you work hard enough for long enough, I swear you can accomplish anything. It may take 20 years. Just keep going. The mantra we use in the Captains camp  is “Thoughts Become Things”. Whether you think you can, or you cannot… you are probably right.

What is your favourite song to perform live?

CD: That’s a tough question. I think it depends on my mood. Generally speaking, I would say the song Loyalty is my favourite to play, because I don’t have any vocal parts to perform live so I can step back and just enjoy playing some sick guitar riffs. Like the good old days 😉

Can you describe your creative process when you’re writing new music?

CD: Personally I don’t have a process nailed down. Creativity comes in waves for me and some days, I just don’t have the juices flowing. Sometimes all it takes is seeing an everyday word or phrase on a bus bench or something to spark a bigger idea. I have tons of voice memos on my phone of guitar riffs that have come to me randomly, so I’ll usually try and pair a short melody hook to a riff, and then build off of that feeling.

What has been the best advice someone has given you about music?

CD: “You suck. Get better.” Sounds harsh, but was the best advice I ever got. Don’t EVER let yourself fall into the frame of mind that you’ve ‘made it’ and therefore can stop progressing as a musician. There is an endless world of technique and skill development to explore and even if you’re at the top of your game giving advanced level performances – what about next time? Are you able to consistently add to the viewing/listening experience? I can’t remember exactly who said it, but I heard a quote once from an old rocker that stuck with me. “I want to be the best member of the band, and I want everyone else to be better than me.”

Which musician would you like to collaborate with in the future?

CD: I actually just recently started fixating on the idea of one day writing a song with Ian D’Sa from Billy Talent. The way he writes guitar is unparalleled in my eyes. And on top of that, all the vocal harmony work he does over the riffs… truly a great inspiration for any guitar player at any level. Billy Talent for life!!!


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